Jefferson Park gallery showcases local art, gemstones; grand opening gala set for Jan. 26





by BRIAN NADIG

A new art gallery in Jefferson Park is serving as a showcase for a variety of works by local artists.

The Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon-cutting at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26, at Connect Gallery, 4968 N. Milwaukee Ave. Wine and hors d’ oeuvres will be served until 10 p.m. as part of the grand opening event.

Artist Tracy Shymkus had been selling her gemstone jewelry at neighborhood festivals for years, but she recently decided to change her business plan.

"I felt like I needed a permanent home for my precious stones and to grow from being a street vendor," she said.

The 900-square-foot gallery features a variety of artwork, including oil canvasses and mixed media art, which is being sold on consignment in addition to the gemstones, said Shymkus’ business partner Lauren Hall, a local real estate broker who handles marketing for the gallery.

"Our walls are full," Hall said.

One of the featured artists at the grand opening will be Tony Passero, whose murals can be seen on viaduct walls throughout the North and Northwest sides. Paintings by Passero, which he used as inspiration to create a recently installed fish-themed mural near Montrose Avenue and Lake Shore Drive, will be for sale at the event.

Regular monthly events at Connect Gallery, including pop-up displays by artists, are planned, according to Shymkus and Hall.

More information is available on the Facebook page for Connect Gallery at www.facebook.com/connectgallery/